California Senate Urges New Federal Policy on Medical Marijuana

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

ASA California Director Don Duncan 323-326-6347 or Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361

California Senate Urges New Federal Policy on Medical Marijuana

Recent enforcement actions in medical marijuana states underscore need for change

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California Senate voted 23-15
yesterday on a resolution that urges the federal
government
to end medical marijuana raids and to "create a
comprehensive federal medical marijuana policy that ensures safe and
legal access to any patient that would benefit from it." Recent federal
enforcement activity underscores the need for Senate Joint
Resolution (SJR) 14, introduced in June by State Senator Mark Leno
(D-San Francisco). Although President Obama has signaled a willingness
to change federal policy on medical marijuana, his Administration has
yet to
come forward with an actual implementation plan.

In a previous statement, Senator Leno stated that, "Patients and
providers in
California remain at risk
of arrest and prosecution by federal law enforcement and legally
established medical marijuana cooperatives continue to be the subjects
of federal raids." Once passed, "this resolution will clearly
state the Legislature's opposition to federal interference with
California's medical marijuana law and support for expanded federal
reform and medical research," continued Leno.

In the last two weeks, federal agents conducted multiple raids on
medical marijuana providers in both California and Colorado. On August
12, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service, and local police carried
out a paramilitary-style raid on a medical marijuana provider in Los
Angeles. The government claimed that the raided facility had failed to
submit state sales tax revenues despite a lack of corroboration by the
California Board of Equalization. Then, on August 14, during an
investigation on an unrelated matter, FBI agents raided a medical
marijuana provider in Denver, Colorado, causing the facility to shut
down. Most recently, on August 18, five people were arrested in Upper
Lake, California on federal charges after DEA agents seized 154 plants
from what defendants claim was a medical marijuana cultivation site.
The search warrant in the Upper Lake raid has been indefinitely sealed,
preventing any scrutiny of the government's actions.

These and at least a half-dozen other actions that have occurred since
President Obama took office seem to contradict repeated statements made
by the Obama
Administration about a new federal policy with regard to medical
marijuana. "Not
only do we need an end to these harmful federal
raids and unnecessary interference in state medical marijuana laws,"
said Don Duncan, California Director with Americans for Safe Access,
the nationwide
medical marijuana advocacy group and sponsor of SJR 14. "The
entire
country would benefit from a sensible,
comprehensive medical marijuana policy."

SJR 14 urges President Obama and Congress to "move
quickly to end federal
raids, intimidation, and interference with state medical marijuana
law." But, it goes further by asking the government to
establish "an affirmative defense to medical marijuana charges in
federal court and establish federal legal protection for individuals
authorized by state and local law..." Because of the 2005 U.S. Supreme
Court decision in Gonzales v. Raich, federal medical marijuana
defendants are prevented from using a medical or state law defense.
"With more than two dozen of these defendants currently being
prosecuted by the Justice Department, each of them facing many years in
prison, such a change to Justice Department policy would be timely,
relevant and
critically important," continued Duncan.

The resolution also addresses the need to expand research into the
medical benefits of marijuana, a recommendation of the White
House-commissioned Institute of Medicine report from 1999. Currently, a
federal monopoly on the cultivation of marijuana for research purposes
has stifled the ability to conduct FDA-approved scientific studies. To
address this, the resolution urges the President and Congress "to adopt
policies and laws to encourage advanced clinical research trials into
the therapeutic use of marijuana." SJR 14 now proceeds to the
California Assembly, and if passed the
non-binding resolution will become law without needing the approval of
Governor Schwarzenegger.

Further information:

Senate Joint Resolution on medical marijuana:
http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/SJR_14.pdf

ASA fact sheet on SJR 14:
http://www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/SJR14_Fact_Sheet.pdf

Yesterday's Senate vote count:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sjr_14_vote_20090824_1259PM_sen_floor.html

 

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Americans for Safe Access is the nation's largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.

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